Dec 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) gets tackled by New York Giants free safety Ryan Mundy (21) during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears Free Agency Progress Report


Most experts figured the Chicago Bears would be active early in free agency and they didn’t disappoint.  So how would one rate their progress thus far?

Lamarr Houston an adequate solution to the Julius Peppers problem

The likelihood that the Bears were going to solve their defensive line problems with one big signing was never realistic.  However, being able to get former Oakland end Lamarr Houston rates as a very underrated move.  Not only does he have the length and speed to play on the edge, his 300 lbs frame also enables him to become a pass rusher threat from the interior.  That kind of versatility is hard to come by and is something they can put to good use.  Houston is just 26-years old, a team captain, durable and trending up in terms of production.  If anything else he is a solution to the Julius Peppers salary cap problem.  His addition allowed the Chicago Bears front office to cut the 34-year old, and begin their process of making a younger, more active defense.

Ryan Mundy brings toughness and experience to safety position

Their other sizeable move of day one in free agency was bringing in veteran safety Ryan Mundy.  Never a full-time starter during his stints in Pittsburgh and New York, the 29-year old has nonetheless found a way to have an impact wherever he plays.  It’s clear the Bears are giving him a two-year deal to compete for a starting job and most likely replace the departing Major Wright.  It should bring more stability if anything else and increase the competition at that maligned safety position.

Phil Emery still has moves to make before NFL draft

Free agency is not a sprint.  It is a marathon that comes in waves.  Phil Emery proved last year he could find starters both early and later on.  One fact that is becoming clear is he’s going to attack the entire defensive roster in an effort to give the Chicago Bears maximum flexibility to take the best player on the board when they go on the clock in May for the NFL draft.  Bringing back D.J. Williams was an additional minor move that won’t get much press but does solve a short-term issue for the team at the middle linebacker position.  Going down the list the GM has added an end, a safety and a linebacker.  If the trend holds then fans can expect a corner and maybe another tackle in the next couple days.  That would open the door for the team to concentrate on going after who they feel is the best talent rather than who fills the biggest need.

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Tags: Chicago Bears Julius Peppers LaMarr Houston NFL Draft Phil Emery Ryan Mundy

  • LaughHammer

    I would like to see him make a run at Jared Allen.

    • Erik Lambert

      Looks like they’re certainly doing that. Don’t know if they have the negotiating power the Seahawks will but if Emery can convince him it would be a huge pickup for that defensive line.

      • LaughHammer

        Young, Houston, and then Jared Allen alongside a draft pick of either Arnold or Jernigan would VASTLY IMPROVE their front 4. If that defense moves up from where they were to a top 12-15 they’re in the NFC championship game with last year’s offensive production for certain,

        • Erik Lambert

          I think adding Donald to the front as is would be a coup. So throw Allen on top of that and we got something serious. We could also bring back Corey Wootton for even more depth.

  • Charles Spencer King

    This morning my top targets are:

    DRC CB DEN
    Spikes MLB NE
    Wooton DE Bears
    Carrington DL BUF + Hood DL PIT

    • Erik Lambert

      They already re-signed D.J. Williams so Spikes is not likely. DRC and Wootton might be. Honestly I think Justin Tuck is a more realistic pursuit on the line now than Carrington or Hood.

      • Charles Spencer King

        I’m delighted with Young, I did not think they could steal him at that price !

        • Erik Lambert

          A 28-year old defensive end with starting experience. It’s a smart signing as they look to revamp the front. Him and Houston aren’t world beaters but they’re versatile and bigger, which should help against the run.

    • LaughHammer

      Your wish list is bigger than your salary cap my friend. At this point with Peanut Tillman back, Jared Allen saying; “I will retire if I don’t get at least 6.5 million a year.”, and DRC looking for big money, I think I would see how the market shakes out for Kiesel from Pittsburgh. Things have been pretty quiet concerning him. He’s a steady guy, doesn’t cause any trouble, made from that Bill Cowher hard nose work ethic, and I think Chicago fans would embrace him.

      • Erik Lambert

        I have my eye on Vance Walker from the Raiders. Houston could recruit him to the fold and add even more valuable depth to that defensive line.

        • LaughHammer

          I never even thought about that guy. It seems like the Raiders are letting everyone go for no apparent reason. I don’t know if they’re doing a complete purge to change the culture, or if they’re just that stupid. I do know they have so much money under the cap that they are mandated to spend, I don’t know how they’re going to do so, with so many of the top tier free agents gone, and with draft pick money slotted. The old Raiders would’ve went after guys like Melton, Ware, Rodgers-Cromartie, Revis, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they would’ve made a deal to bring USC’s Mark Sanchez to sling it down the field. I’m a huge Bears fan, but I’ve also been a life long Raiders fan going back to the Kenny Stabler days in the 70′s. I loved that team when I was a kid. It hurts to see what has happened to that team.

          • Erik Lambert

            I don’t know what the deal is with Mark Davis but he seems so racked by caution. He’s nothing like his father. Say what you want about Al Davis, but the guy understood it takes talent to win and when he saw talent he went after it. I believe strongly that the Raiders would have five or six Super Bowls by now if not for those Dolphins and Steeler teams of the 70s. “Snake” is a personal favorite among the quarterbacks.

          • Charles Spencer King

            Its weird, because they have buckets of cap space……I guess everyone misses the old days and the Raiders were always fun to watch.

          • Erik Lambert

            They were never boring, that’s for sure. I almost think people went to games to see the fights almost as much as the football. It just seems like this organization lacks an identity right now. I feel they should take a quarterback, personally and use him as the driving force for the future.

        • LaughHammer

          Walker did the unthinkable if you’re a Raider and signed with the Chiefs

          • Erik Lambert

            I heard. That’s gotta be a kick in the gut.

      • Charles Spencer King

        LH ..:-) That was 3+ days ago !

        • LaughHammer

          I know it was 3 days ago. I just think the combo of players you had there was too bog of a price tag, considering they had Houston in the fold by then. Wooten is the only one that I think wouldn’t have commanded that much money, and I am concerned about his hip. I think they might bring him back if nothing pans out for them. There reason for bringing him back if the money is right, is because he can play both the interior and end of the line. I like Wooten for the mere fact that he laid out Favre. I think their concern now is a change of pace running back to compliment Forte now. They’ve got Ford who is similar. I think they should bring in fullback from Minnesota, Toby Gerhardt, I think that is how you spell his name, and give him a look. That way they might have that battering ram on the goal line, they lost with Bush last year.

          • Charles Spencer King

            AhhhHa, now I understand. You assumed I was promoting them as a package, when in fact I was promoting them as individuals. I would also add, that estimates of price vary wildly, as Erik likes to say there are burglaries and blunders. My feeling on the fullback, is there is an abundance that block well and provide power. I am in agreement with Erik that we should be targeting a QB after round 1 of the draft and that QB would best be Mettenberger. Although personally, I think he won’t be there in the third for us. Erik, do we have a Mock Draft generator here? I just did my 2.0 at Walt’s where I am “Grizzly” I’d share a link, but I am not sure I am allowed to here…..Have a good weekend LH !

          • Erik Lambert

            Go to a website called Fanspeak. They just upgraded their system to include trades. Not sure if it costs money to use that version but their simulator is pretty cool. One thing I saw constantly was that A.J. McCarron was definitely available when the Bears pick in the third and sometimes even the fourth rounds. Mettenberger varied. Sometimes he went before they picked and sometimes he was there in the third. I would be okay with the Bears taking him that early considering what they’ve already done for the defense.

          • Charles Spencer King

            :-)))))))

          • Erik Lambert

            Gerhardt signed in Jacksonville. If you’re looking for a bruiser type then LeGarrette Blount is still out there. However, I feel they’re going to get that backup on the cheap in the draft or undrafted free agency. I like Storm Johnson or Rajion Neal in the later rounds or perhaps Charles Sims in the 3rd or 4th.

  • Rob Schwarz Jr

    I like your report, will you do one after day 2? I would like to see them make a run at Chris Clemons (S, not DE…although the DE would be okay too!) It seems they have signed two FS to go along with Conte who is another FS. Would it not make sense to get someone who normally plays the SS position like Clemons? Clemons is a better talent than both Mundy and Jennings too.

    Beyond that I would like them to make a run at Tarell Brown (CB) or Captain Munerlyn (CB)….even if they still obtain Tillman. Thoughts on that possibility?

    Who do you think is a good fit for DL as a UFA? I think DL should be their 1st pick in the draft although I agree they can draft the best available player now.

    • Erik Lambert

      The way Mundy plays I think he’s more of a strong safety. Jennings seems more like a depth signing who could push Conte to play better. I’m getting the feel that aside from Tillman, Phil Emery plans to make his primary cornerback moves in the draft, and why not. It’s a very deep class. I will say this. The Jared Allen avenue is still open but barring that I would say Justin Tuck is a possibility. They still need a pass rusher at end to compliment Houston. I’d really like to see them add a run stuffer at D-tackle. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they went that way in the draft but check out my latest article to get my real thinking.

      • LaughHammer

        I don’t think Jennings is much more than an insurance policy for having another veteran in camp. Here you can compare Jennings to Conte per Pro Football Focus. The only difference between the two is Conte gave up 5 touchdowns to Jenning’s 6. Conte was thrown at 38 times and allowed 19 catches, whereas Jennings was thrown at 21 times and allowed 17 catches. “According to STATS, Jennings was the targeted defender on passes 21
        times last season and allowed 17 completions for 280 yards and six
        touchdowns. He was only credited with one pass defended. By comparison,
        Chris Conte was targeted 38 times and allowed 19 completions for 417
        yards and five touchdowns. He was credited with seven passes defended.
        That stat only measures passes actually thrown in a player’s direction
        and it may be a good sign that less passes were directed Jennings’ way,
        although Conte played 100 more snaps than Jennings did last season,
        according to Pro Football Focus.” Jennings allowed more catches per attempt, and more touchdowns per catch than Conte. So this signing has me scratching my head, especially when Conte had a really good 2012 and Jennings did not. Do the Bears think that Conte’s confidence is totally destroyed from last season and he won’t recover? Jennings never had a good season to gauge anything off of at any point of his pro career as a starter. So this signing will baffle me until it is proven on the field that it works.

        • Erik Lambert

          How is he on special teams?

          • LaughHammer

            Jennings did excel on special teams so maybe that is where they see him fitting in. He can push Conte and if Conte flops he at least provides depth. Then again maybe you’re looking at Tillman doing a Charles or Rod Woodson type move and heading to safety as well. Jennings was a punishing hitter on special teams. We know that the coverage team for the Bears needed help. I want to tell you also that I think you and Mike Flannery do a really good job writing on here. I enjoy what you put together, and I enjoy coming on and contributing my comments. You do a good job of keeping the trashy comments out of here. Keep doing what you’re doing.

          • Erik Lambert

            No. Tillman is playing corner. Jennings is definitely special teams help first and safety competition second. I won’t be surprised if Emery brings in more competition via the draft. Yeah, Mike and I get into lively discussions about the Bears. We’ve had a couple debates over the past week or so. Good guy. Really knowledgeable. I appreciate the vote of confidence, LH. Please keep commenting.

          • LaughHammer

            I was also going to ask you a question about the d-line. With Jared Allen looking like he will retire if he doesn’t get the money he wants; what do you think about the Bears bringing in Kiesel from Pittsburgh and giving him a look and listen to see where he is at? I have my opinions. Hard nosed Bill Cowher-like grinder who draws double teams and frees up tackles for the linebackers and defensive ends, who I think Chicago fans would embrace.

          • Erik Lambert

            I won’t deny he’s that kind of player but one number keeps coming up when I think about him: 35. That is how old he is. Phil Emery stated very clearly that he wants to get younger on defense. Keisel goes against that credo.